J.Lo and 'The Greatest Love Story Never Told' Review: Famous and Owning It – The Daily Beast

In her new documentary, “The Greatest Love Story Never Told,” Jennifer Lopez is chronicling the making of her bold, self-funded film and all of the blunders that accompany it.
Entertainment Critic
If there’s one thing Jennifer Lopez needs you to be deeply aware of, it’s that she is a consummate career woman. Once she sets her mind on something, it’s going to happen, whether you like it or not—whether she likes it or not. None of us have any choice but to sit back and watch her spin.
This stalwart professionalism is the ethos surrounding the deluge of projects J.Lo has dropped onto the world as of late, which have landed with all of the subtlety of rose-scented napalm. The amuse-bouche, This Is Me…Now, is the first record Lopez has put out in a decade. She released it in tandem with an accompanying musical movie titled This Is Me…Now: A Love Story, which expands upon the album's themes: love, self-actualization, and being really pretty even when you’re sad. The film hyped the world with just its trailer alone, and was a remarkable testament to just how much thematic content one pop star can dredge up out of romance. But the totally wacko, instantly lovable movie was just a drop in the bucket that is The Greatest Love Story Never Told (streaming Feb. 27 on Prime Video), our main course in the Great J.Lo Feast of 2024.
The Greatest Love Story Never Told is technically a companion piece to her first Prime Original, given that it’s a making-of documentary about This Is Me…Now: A Love Story. But this behind-the-scenes peek at J.Lo’s creative process, directed by Jason Bergh, is so much more than just a glorified episode of MTV’s Making the Video. The Greatest Love Story Never Told is a glowing shrine to narcissism and its many casualties, a truly admirable documentary about never giving up, no matter how many people tell you that you’re draining your bank account for no reason. It lets the audience in on all of the situations winked at in the musical movie, including Lopez’s intimate relationship with her husband Ben Affleck. While the film is certainly gossipy, the confluence of larger-than-life ambition and ego, which lurks in the details of every frame, is even more fascinating. The Greatest Love Story Never Told is a study of celebrity, and the drive that it takes to maintain it. It has no intention of humanizing its shining star, only reminding us of exactly why she has retained her wattage.
The Greatest Love Story Never Told arrives on the heels of a slew of other recent pop docs, like Gaga: Five Foot Two, Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero, and J.Lo’s own film Halftime, from 2022. But unlike those offerings, which are of varying quality and rarely ascend past the point of a vanity project, The Greatest Love Story Never Told has zero desire to convince viewers that its famous subject really matters at the end of the day. Lopez says it best herself when she explains that her musical movie is merely something that she desperately wants to do, not something of critical importance to the culture. “It’s not like anyone is clamoring for the next J.Lo record,” Lopez jokes, reassuring herself and her team that the project’s delay won’t rile up the public. As hard as I try, and as much as I rack my brain, I can’t remember the last time a pop star said anything so self-effacing in a documentary that they have the final say over.
It’s that question that shrouds The Greatest Love Story Never Told: How much of this is sincere, and how much of it is a calculated inclusion meant to convince the audience of J.Lo’s prowess? For my money, the documentary is far more the former than the latter. There’s no good reason for Lopez to include several scenes where her famous friends and industry colleagues decline to make a cameo appearance in the film. There isn’t a decent argument for including a phone call between Lopez and actor Anthony Ramos—whom she calls “Anthony Robins,” in a second blunder—where he kindly pulls out of the project because he’s close with her ex-husband, Marc Anthony. Hell, half of the film is just J.Lo’s team and her husband telling her not to make this movie.

But all truly great artists have stood steadfast in the face of their doubters. We’d never have Born This Way if Lady Gaga caved to homophobic protests. We wouldn’t get Abbey Road if The Beatles were worried about being plowed over by cars in that crosswalk. Brooke Hogan would never have released The Redemption if anyone convinced her that a Jersey boardwalk-style puffy paint album cover was heinous. Lopez is laying it all out here, and the degree to which she is willing to obliterate her ego in service of her art is, at times, sincerely striking—especially given that This Is Me…Now: A Love Story is a tribute to her own resilience. This is vulnerability, J.Lo style. Close your eyes and embrace utter humiliation to service the heart. Ignominy begets the most compelling projects she has made in years!
As if This Is Me…Now: A Love Story wasn’t impressive enough as it is, the documentary’s behind-the-scenes peek makes the fact that it exists at all even more of a feat. This doc is a fascinating look at the amount of day-to-day work that a massive film shoot requires, deftly captured by Bergh. There’s money on the line. Dancers, directors, crew, and designers need to get paid, and Lopez is funding this herself for a $20 million price tag, since all major studios have either passed or rescinded their deals. Watching her try to cut corners wherever she can creates high stakes, and there’s a brutal pressure nipping at stilettos every second.

For those who will come to The Greatest Love Story Never Told for Lopez and Affleck’s perspective on tabloid chatter surrounding their relationship, or just some comical celebrity musings, you will not be let down. There are plenty of outrageous soundbites to chew on here, like when J.Lo is running through that list of celebs who rejected her. “Taylor Swift said no,” Lopez says with resignation. Of course, her attempt at getting the most famous person in the world to make a 30-second cameo in her movie was never going to come through, but the point is that she tries. Lopez has no shame, and she knows that nothing happens in this life if you don’t put yourself out there. That’s the point of this whole endeavor, and it’s one that this documentary makes far clearer than either the accompanying album or short musical film.
Despite all of Lopez’s clawing and scraping and hoping, it’s nice to see the warmth that she and Affleck have between one another, especially given that so many people have questioned their rekindled love. There’s no doubt that these two deeply care for one another. They have a sweet, familiar rapport and chemistry, and they both make it plainly clear that they are different people who share one big, beating heart. Lopez and Affleck know how to pull one another out of their doldrums, and watching Affleck extoll their intimacy in confessional scenes is touching.
That’s the thing about The Greatest Love Story Never Told: I popped some new batteries in my bullshit detector and came away with nary a beep. There is an earnestness here that is threaded through the other two Jennifer Lopez projects that closely accompany it. It’s clear that Lopez is through with the artifice of celebrity, and is now only interested in living transparently—albeit with all of the glitz and glam that follow someone in her tax bracket. You can’t watch this documentary and deny its self-importance, but refuting Lopez’s passion is just as difficult. For her, vanity and honesty walk hand in hand. And how refreshing it is to watch a celebrity stop pretending that’s not the case.
Entertainment Critic
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